With two AFL coaches coming out against the recent introduction of an 80-rotation interchange cap in just the first week, most are struggling to see the benefits in the latest rule trial.

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse backed up the thoughts of Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson regarding the interchange cap during the second round of the NAB Cup, the first time weekend of football the rule has been implemented.

“It’s not friendly to the players,” Malthouse said after posting a 70-point win against Fremantle.

“If (the AFL) wants the medical evidence which they’ve chosen to dismiss, it will suggest that there’s a very strong link between more interchanges and less injuries, not the other way around.”

Malthouse’s comments came just days after Alastair Clarkson stated the additional difficulties the new rule places on coaches.

“It’s always difficult when you’ve got a cap because you’re wanting to coach the players in terms of what’s happening on the ground, not be worrying about counting numbers,” he said.

“It’s an enormous constraint.”

Bound for Glory News wrote back in October that the rule change would push players not only to but over their physical limits. It doesn’t take much common sense to realise that when the body is pushed to the limit over a long period of time, injury and fatigue is likely to occur.

The game is based on both aerobic fitness as well as the ability to produce in bursts, bursts that allow players to make tough tackles, race down the wing or simply chase an opponent. If there are fewer rotations, the body doesn’t get as many chances to rest and as a result, is unable to provide as many physical bursts.

The biggest problem is that players are going to attempt those burst no matter what. Players have been taught to go hard for over a decade now and this rule change contradicts the path AFL has gone down in that time. As a result, players trying to push themselves to levels they simply cannot go place themselves in danger of injury.

As Mick Malthouse said, there is a strong link between more interchanges and less injuries. It’s hard to understand the thinking behind the decision to implement this rule if it’s going to be a detriment to the health of the players.

The NAB Cup is commonly used to trail new rules and in the one week this particular rule has been active, it’s fair to say the interchange rule is an overwhelming failure. We’ve already seen clubs struggle to stick to the limit of 20 rotations per quarter, resulting in a lower standard of football and those teams struggling in the times they could not make rotations.

You can almost guarantee the AFL will insist on pursuing with this rule for the remainder of the NAB Cup but for the sake of both the spectacle of football and the health of players, the interchange cap should be thrown out the window.